Taoiseach slips back to the Seanad and butters them up
Just to show that meant business, Enda had his little notebook with him and scribbled furiously throughout the session
Not that anyone really knows what that is, which is why we were there in the first place,
Labour’s Ivana Bacik said they should be paid less and have “greatly reduced sitting hours”. That was a head-scratcher. Fewer hours? They’re hardly there as it is.
Feargal Quinn heaped Enda with praise. The Taoiseach’s decision to come before the House “was a measure of the man and it underlines the dignified manner in which he accepted the people’s verdict.”
Quinn was pleased to note the referendum campaign was “never personalised”. He wouldn’t have noticed the sarcastic curls that twirled around nearby lips.
Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune brought up the use of the Seanad as a safety net for defeated Dáil candidates. “Like Senator Bacik, I wasn’t successful and I’m in this House now.”
In auctioneering parlance, that’s known as trading down. But you still have a foot on the property ladder.
Her party colleague, Hildegarde Naughton, a newcomer to the Seanad, suggested the House should sit in various places around the country.
They could call it “The House They Couldn’t Kill Tour.”
Fianna Fáil’s Labhrás Ó’Murchú was delighted with the Taoiseach’s “gracious contribution”. Then he praised Fine Gael’s Maurice Cummins for being a fair leader of the House. Everyone applauded.
Taoiseach’s nominee Katherine Zappone, a leading light in the retention fight, thanked Enda for turning up and urged him to respond to the “people’s clarion call for reform”.
“Keep faith with what the people voted for,” she said.
What did they vote for? Some might argue it was the two fingers to Enda and his government. He won’t want to keep faith with that outcome.
Prof John Crown lauded his “very considerable grace and statesmanship” in coming to address them.
Like he had a choice.
Grasping the nettle
Fine Gael’s Katherine Noone congratulated Enda “for grasping the nettle of political reform.” We suspect Enda was wearing gloves when he did it.
Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry apologised for calling him a clown while Terry Leyden took the opportunity to publicise his new Bill on Seanad reform. He got Enda to autograph it.
Labour nominee Mary Moran thought more MEPs should be brought in to address the House. Her sister, Emer Costello, is one. Fine Gael’s Cáit Keane wanted affiliated Senators to have as many assistants as independents.
Pat O’Neill (FG) suggested the House consider the treatment of ethnic minorities and recommend legislation. “The Taoiseach said he comes in peace; we say, ‘HOW!’ he concluded, obviously a fan of cowboys and Indians in his youth.
They queued up to garland the reforming Taoiseach.
Enda replied. He read a litany of reform proposals that haven’t come to anything. Then pointed out the large number of different suggestions he had just heard. Seanad reform is not easy to achieve, when all the implications are explored.
“I’ve taken notes of everybody’s comments” he said. They’ll “engage further again”.
And that was it, really.
Afterwards, one Fianna Fáil Senator was delighted with the contribution he didn’t make.
“I knew we’d get nowhere. And I’m glad I wasn’t one of those people who lined up to kiss his ass after that final speech.”